When hiring tech workers, sacrificing cultural fit for skills is a mistake, according to Marc Spiron, senior recruiter at Billtrust, in Hamilton.
What should you do instead? “Hire the right cultural fit, look for the ability to learn, then train that person in any skills he or she needs to perform their job,” said Spiron in an interview with NJTechWeekly.com.
Tech workers are also better than ever at interfacing with customers. According to Spiron, gone is the notion of having IT people in the “back-office,” away from the customer, never to be seen. “More and more technical job candidates that I speak to have advanced skill sets in communication, client interaction, leadership and/or other business skills that help their organizations move forward in more ways than just technical,” he added.
NJTechWeekly contributor Benjamin Doda sat down with Spiron to get his thoughts on hiring and developing talented tech workers, and what hiring managers need to know in order to make the right selections as we head into the new year:
How is recruiting tech talent different from recruiting other workers? Why do you think that is?
Technical skill sets, generally speaking, are some of the most in-demand in the workforce, so there can be an extra degree of difficulty in hiring top talent. Combined with recruiting know-how, an understanding of the high-level differences between programming languages, databases and other relevant technologies and concepts is important in building credibility with those you seek to hire.
Moreover, because there is such a high demand for tech talent, many candidates receive an overwhelming number of contacts from employers. To successfully recruit talent, you need to think strategically about how to stand out from the crowd, and how to tactically engage with candidates in a high-touch fashion.
The technology landscape is constantly changing, so to have long-term success you have to continue to develop your network, be aware of industry technology changes and always be striving to better your craft.
What can other job seekers learn from tech workers?
Whatever the area of technology — infrastructure, web development, UX, etc. — there always
seem to be new tools coming to market: a new monitoring tool to learn, a new web version of a web framework to pick up, a new prototyping offering to evaluate. Because of the constantly changing technical landscape, there are always new opportunities to learn new skills for tech professionals.
While there are not as many bright shiny objects to learn, nontech job seekers should always be developing their skill set. Seek to improve your public speaking skills or your leadership abilities. Learn ways to be more efficient. Read a book on embracing challenge. Technical or nontechnical, there are ways for all of us to better ourselves professionally.
On the subject of recruiting tech talent, what key advice do you have for others who are searching for fantastic tech workers specifically?
What worked yesterday may not work today, so it’s important to have a well-rounded recruiting strategy in which you’re leveraging a variety of methods and channels to recruit active and passive candidates. An effective careers page, sponsored click programs, employee referrals, job boards and social media programs are a few sources.
Before a candidate applies to your opening, they will likely research your company, so make sure you have built a strong employer brand also.
Once you are interviewing, make sure to evaluate effectively. To quote Lou Adler: “The best candidates don’t typically have the exact mix of skills, experience, and education described in the job description. They make up for this with traits that can’t easily be filtered: potential, self-motivation, leadership, tenacity and vision.”
So, when you are seeking top talent for hard-to-fill positions, try to think about a candidate’s ability to do a job, rather than their fitting all the criteria on a job description. Use behavioral-based interviewing techniques to better ascertain if they project right for your opening.
What excites you about hiring and developing high-impact technology workers today?
The availability of tools and technologies that enable today’s hiring managers to reach beyond where they could in the past to identify top talent is remarkable. There are your everyday search engines and job boards, but one can now access web scraping and parsing tools, people aggregators, candidate data visualization tools, social cross-referencing tools and much more. In many situations, candidates and candidate information are much more available than they were a few years ago.
On the other hand, is there anything that scares you?
As exciting as all of the new platforms and products are, we can’t forget the fundamentals of recruiting effectively. Sourcing tools and platforms should make our lives easier, and should have their part in the overall recruiting strategy, but engaging candidates properly and building relationships cannot be replaced with tools. A platform for scraping the web to find someone’s contact information is great, but if someone cannot effectively describe the value proposition of a position or company to a prospective hire, then tools will not help much.